Personal injury law offers victims of bodily injury a route to compensation. If you suffered an injury as a result of reckless or careless behavior by another person, you have the right to file a bodily injury claim with the appropriate Arizona court and seek compensation for the economic and non-economic losses associated with your case. This brief step-by-step guide will help you understand the process.
Step 1: Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations allows you a certain timeframe to file a lawsuit. In Arizona, you have two years from the date of the accident that caused your injuries to file a claim. The court will typically dismiss any cases filed after the statute of limitations. However, they make exceptions in certain cases.
Step 2: Court Systems
In Maricopa County, Arizona, there are three court systems through which you can file a bodily injury claim. You must choose which system best suits the details of your case. The three court systems are:
- The Justice of the Peace Courts handles cases of bodily injury with damages valued at not above $10,000. Proceedings are typically less formal but still subject to civil procedure.
- The Superior Courts of the state do not put an upper limit on the value of damages you seek, but you must seek at least $10,000.
- The Federal Courts for Arizona generally handle more complex cases in which the total damages are more than $75,000.
Once you know where to file your claim, you need to draft your complaint.
Step 3: Bodily Injury Claim Complaint
The complaint is the legal document identifying who the plaintiff (yourself) is, who the defendant is and what court you will file in. It also contains a descriptive summary of the incident, the theories behind your allegations and the facts about your injury and damages. You may also need to file a summons to identify all the parties involved and inform the defendant of your claim.
Step 4: Service of Process
The service of process is the actual step where the defendant receives the summons. There are various ways to complete this process. Typically a court official or member of law enforcement will distribute the documents. The summons may also come through the mail, but this is less likely because the court typically requires proof of receipt.
Step 5: Response to Bodily Injury Claim
Once you complete the steps above, your next move is to wait for a response from the defendant or their attorneys. In cases involving personal injury, the defendant has 20 days to respond, starting with the date of the service. The possible responses are either a motion to dismiss the case or an answer to the allegations. Answers to allegations are often a list of counter-allegations of shared fault or claims that the plaintiff is wholly responsible for the accident.
This guide covers the basic steps to filing a bodily injury claim in Arizona. However, the circumstances of each personal injury case are unique. If you have questions about your case and how to file your claim, contact the personal injury attorneys at MDK Law Group for a free consultation.